Sixth-graders at Lundahl Middle School believe in true love, stopping world terrorism, sports and longer recess.
They believe the sky’s the limit, in friendship and being yourself, in donating to people in need and in other people’s ideas. These beliefs – and many more – literally are written on the wall. An “I Believe Wall,” to be specific.
Sixth-grade teachers Kim Chudik and Cynthia Nero incorporated the song, “Believe,” by Shawn Mendes, as well as the video for the song in which people write their beliefs on a wall, into their language arts and social studies lessons.
What resulted was, in their words, “amazing” – a chalk-painted wall filled with the written thoughts of sixth-graders following the words, “I believe.”
“It’s helping us to express who we are,” said 12-year-old Molly Mareci, who finished her “I believe” with “in exploring the world.” “People just judge people by the way they look and not the way they should be seen.”
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The wall not only represents the wide array of beliefs of the students, but also their ability to have perspective, compassion and acceptance of one another.
It started with an idea Chudik had when her daughter showed her the Mendes video and grew from there. Chudik first incorporated the “I Believe” project as a teacher at Glacier Ridge Elementary School in Crystal Lake. She expanded it at Lundahl with the help of Nero, other teachers and staff and, of course, the students.
“The kids didn’t realize they were learning,” she said, referring to the many aspects of the project.
The students first talked about the song, the video and its message, along with their beliefs, and then wrote about it.
They used figurative language and referenced current events, the importance of random acts of kindness and more.
The wall was all about respect – both of one another and the wall, itself. No writing on it without permission and no erasing their classmates’ inspiration.
“I’m always looking for ways to keep the kids interested,” Chudik said, “and take everything beyond the classroom.”
She’s worked other songs into the curriculum, such as “Mean” by Taylor Swift. She and Nero were impressed by the variety of the messages written on the wall.
“The kids were thoughtful in what they wrote,” Nero said.
“It really made them think about what’s important to them. Some kids wrote some really insightful things.”
For 11-year-old James Carlson, who wrote, “I believe in stopping world terrorism,” the wall was a way to express his thoughts on world affairs.
“I think world terrorism is one of the worst things affecting the country, and it causes a lot of pain and death,” he said.
The wall, he said, shows “you should always keep moving forward.”
It was a bit more personal for 12-year-old Grace Collingbourne who wrote she believes in “true love.”
Collingbourne was a fan of the song and Shawn Mendes before both became part of her curriculum.
The wall shows, “There is good in the world,” she said, and, “If you believe enough, it might come true.”